I’ve been very busy lately, hence the lack of recent input to my blog. It all started with Yardworks, followed by volunteering at the Glasgow Mela, and this past weekend I was volunteering at Doune The Rabbit Hole festival, more information on each of these follows:
One of my favourite events is Yardworks, held at SWG3, this annual street art festival is one of my favourite weekends in Glasgow. The event, held on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th June, is one of Europe’s biggest dedicated to street art and graffiti – with artists and writers from across Glasgow, the UK and Europe coming together to paint and draw, creating an explosion of colour.
On the nearby railway arches, wall spaces and boards in the yard, the highly skilled artists including Smug, Ejek, Rogue One and many others worked side by side with some of the most celebrated names from around the globe – including Zurik, Bublegum, and Balstroem.
I was there on the Saturday with my mate Jim and his 10 year old grandson Jack and It was so good to be able to meet and chat with friends old and new, Jack was enthralled by the talent on display and expressed an interest in trying out some spray painting himself in the future.
Sunday saw me back again, this time with my friends Gary and Jan Gammage, it was great to see the works develop and to see the eventual finished articles. Gary & Jan were interested in the many different techniques used, spray paint, palette, brush and the use of stencils in the development of the pieces.
It was a brilliant weekend, great art, good food and fun in the company of friends, what more could you ask for.
Sunday the 26th found me in Kelvingrove park volunteering at the Glasgow Mela, an annual multicultural music and dance festival. The Mela began in 1990 as part of Glasgow’s year as the European City of Culture and has grown from being an indoor event at the Tramway to an outdoor extravaganza, with something for all the family.
I was assigned as the Artist Liaison for the Navras (main) stage, which kept me busy for the whole day. At this stage, we had a variety of acts, dance, music and performance arts. Amongst the acts that entertained me and the crowds were Deesh Sandhu, Hunterz and the headliner Jaz Dhami and his band.
Being busy for most of the day I missed out on some of the other activities on offer but did manage to grab a nice lamb curry for lunch from one of the many food outlets on site.
Doune The Rabbit Hole
Doune the Rabbit Hole is an intimate, independent music & arts festival located amidst the glorious ancient oak trees of the Cardross Estate, near the Lake of Menteith, in Stirlingshire. Starting in 2010, at a site near the town of Doune (hence the name!) they have been celebrating the very best of Scotland’s independent arts scene alongside amazing international guests. This year’s line-up included main stage headliners like the legendary Patti Smith and Band, multi-million selling Scottish singer-songwriter Amy MacDonald, homegrown, world-famous talent Belle & Sebastian, English post-punk duo Sleaford Mods and Bellshill natives and superstars Teenage Fanclub, one of my son Graeme’s favourites (the video below is for him). I really enjoyed the set by Esperanza, a Glasgow Ska band, they took me back to my youth.
I was the artist Liaison on the Bandersnatch stage which had a sort of folkie and blues vibes, and thanks to Chris Blackmore, the Stage Manager and Phil the Sound Engineer, the atmosphere there was pretty chilled and relaxing and we had some really entertaining artists on stage including The Mary Wallopers, Rachel Sermanni and John Francis Flynn, it was good to see and listen to Erin Bradley-Scott perform, Erin is one of my favourite art groups, The Cobolt Collective, she certainly is a talented lady. It seems like I can never get away from street art and artists, I even came across a nice piece by Ross MacRae next to the Jabberwocky stage, I really like his work.
There was also some exceptional food on offer, although there was a crew canteen I gave it a miss at times to sample the fare from Barnacles & Bones, Shawarmarama, and the Pizza Geeks.
As this was a weekend camping festival and I didn’t feel like camping, I decided to book a room in Willow Court, one of Stirling University’s halls of residence, overall this was a great choice. Another great weekend and I’m looking forward to heading back again next year
I have eventually caught up with two of my outstanding blog posts, the first is the one for the STRAAT Museum in Amsterdam which I visited recently. The collection held there is very impressive and extensive as can be seen by the photographs on the page, there are a lot of them. They can be viewed here:
I have also uploaded a page showing the murals spotted while wandering the city, this includes the 10 murals created for the “If Walls could talk” festival in 2019. For me, the highlight of this set of murals was one by Smug of our very own GazMac, it is spectacular as usual. They can be viewed here:
As per usual, we were up at the crack of dawn (2:45) to head off to Glasgow Airport to catch our early British Airways flight to Lisbon via London Heathrow. Despite the bad press we found the Check-in and security pretty painless, yes there were long queues but they moved along steadily. Once into the departure lounge, we stopped off for the obligatory bacon butty and coffee while waiting for our gate announcement.
The first flight to London went extremely well and we arrive ahead of schedule, we initially thought that we would require to pass through security again but this was not the case, and an easy transfer took us to the departure gate for our flight to Lisbon. We were a wee bit late taking off, however, the pilot made good time and we arrived ahead of schedule. Once through passport control we took a metro into the city centre and changed to another line which took us closer to our accommodation in Rua de São Paulo, in the Bica area of the city. Our host’s friend was waiting to take us up the many stairs to our flat. The flat on the top floor of an old (1898) apartment block, was just what we were looking for, bright and spacious with all the facilities required, and fortunately close to public transport and the city centre.
Once we had settled into the flat we went to a local cafe for a late snack lunch before heading out to explore the local area, stopping off for a beer on the way, it was extremely hot (37 degrees), we then picked up some supplies from a local supermarket and went back to the flat for a rest to recharge our batteries before going out for a pizza and a couple of beers. We were glad to eventually hit the sack after a long and tiring day
Wednesday 8th June
After a leisurely breakfast, we went to the nearby Time Out Market to pick up the GreyLine Hop-on-Hop-off-bus and took in the many sights of this wonderful city. After coming off the first bus we stopped at Casa Chineza an old-style cafe for a traditional Portuguese snack lunch (Rissoles and Shrimp Cakes) before heading off on our obligatory Starbucks mug quest (successfully). We waited in the queue for the Elevador de Santa Justa lift but a kind local told us to save our money and to go up through a nearby store to their roof garden, which took us to exactly the same viewing platform as the lift (10 Euros saved).
As it was another scorchingly hot afternoon, a trip down to the riverbank for ice cream started us off nicely, before going back on the bus (a different route this time) to let us see more of the city. Bussed out, we took the metro back to Bica where we chilled out a bit in the flat before popping back along to the Time Out Market for dinner, this was a great decision as we were spoiled for choice of what to eat, we both decided on a fish dish and they were very good indeed. The seating is arranged as long tables and it was nice sitting chatting with others sitting next to us. A stall selling Pasteis de Nata, the Portuguese Custard tarts then beckoned us and along with a shot of Ginjinha, the local cherry liquor finished off our meal nicely.
As we were ready to leave the music started and a group of people started dancing tangos, that was our excuse for another beer so we could stay and watch them, it was great fun. I had to hold Jim back as he wished to join in, it was a great way to finish off another interesting day.
Thursday 9th June
After breakfast we took a walk along the Tagus riverbank into the city centre then climbed to the top of the Arco da Rua Augusta for some stunning views over the Praça do Comércio and the river, before boarding yet another Hop-on-Hop-off bus, we wanted to be sure that we got value from our 2-day ticket, this route took us to the east of the city, a more commercialised area with some interesting modern building, so much different to the historical buildings in the city centre. After a traditional Sardinas de Portuguese lunch, we finished off with the last of the bus routes, this time it was a short one that dropped us off near our accommodation where we had our afternoon siesta before revisiting the Time Out Market for dinner.
On our return to the flat, we found that the party crowds were gathering on the Bica stairs outside, and things were starting to get busy for the festival. Later in the evening we joined them and had a great time amongst some really nice people, the singing and dancing carried on until well after midnight, we thought it only polite to stay until the end, we wouldn’t have got much sleep anyway with the noise below us.
Friday 10th June
Wishing to experience one of the historic Lisbon trams, we headed into the city centre, before boarding the famous number 28 tram at its terminus, we stopped off for a coffee and a Pasteis de Nata, one of the local delicacies. The tram ride was an interesting way to see the city, rattling through the narrow cobbled streets with the bell clanking away merrily.
Whilst in the west of the city We stopped off to visit the LX factory this is an area similar to the Custard Factory in Birmingham, an area where ‘Creatives’ have gathered setting up stores, bars, restaurants and galleries, we stopped off there for a Pastel de Bacalhau, a codfish cake stuffed with cheese, and very nice it was too. On our return to the city centre, we got off at the top of the Elevator de Bica, which took us down to Rua De São Paulo and our accommodation. We have discovered during this trip that an afternoon siesta is important in this extremely warm weather so back to the flat we went for one.
In the relative cool of the evening we went to find some good street art nearby before some shopping and a nice meal in the Santos de Bica Bistro just along the street, the meal was very nice and it was good to just sit and chat while watching the world go by. The street was very busy with crowds gathering for the night’s festivities which got underway quite early, the Friday night crowd was bigger than the previous night’s, but we ventured out for an hour or so near the end, again it was great fun. Everyone we met was very friendly and it was interesting to note the many different nationalities joining the party. Another great day in this vibrant city.
Saturday 11th June
As part of our daily routine, we headed to the local station to top up our travel card before heading into the city to find a piece of street art by local artist Vhils, one of my favourites, this piece has frustrated us, as despite many searches we are still unable to find it. Feeling a bit frustrated, we headed down to the waterfront to cool down and have a bite of lunch in a Brazillian Bistro before heading west to visit MAAT, a museum where Vhils has curated a video exhibition named Prisma, its maze-type layout was almost like a cross between a video show and a hall of mirrors. The museum itself is an interesting building, very modernistic, tiled like the Sydney opera house, you can even walk up on the roof with views along the Tagus river.
Then it was back to the accommodation for our siesta. This evening we decided on an Italian meal, so after a google search, we dropped into Prima Pasta just along the riverfront near the Augusta Arch. This proved to be an OK choice as the meal and service were very good. A slow stroll back along the riverside took us back to the accommodation in time to see this evening’s revellers arrive on the stairs outside our flat. After a little while we ventured up a bit to join in, the crowd, although not as large as previous nights, prevented us from going up too high, but we still had a great time joining in on the singing and dancing. The music went on for a bit longer, which meant it was a late night for us.
Sunday 12th June
After eventually discovering that the GPS system was reporting incorrect locations, causing us to frequently get lost, we set off in search of a mural by Vhils and Shepard Fairey using old-fashioned navigation techniques, this time with great success. I was certainly glad we took the effort as it really is a spectacular collaboration of both their styles, sad to say we were only a few streets away on many occasions, a lesson learnt, don’t fully trust the technology.
Knowing that we would be busy in the evening, we decided to have a heavier lunch so headed back to the Time Out Market, which on a Sunday was extremely busy, both of us chose an Asian lunch there and we were delighted with our choices We then returned to the flat for our siesta.
In the evening we walked into the city centre to join the crowds lining the Avenida da Liberdade to see the Festas de Lisboa parade, the parade started at sundown (around 10:30) and it was interesting to see and appreciate the work that went into each municipalities display, the singing, dancing and costumes were all really good. Fortunately for us, someone nearby managed to get a better video than we could, our view was a wee bit restricted by the 2 police officers standing in front of us, you can see their video here. Another tradition in this festival is to hold a collective wedding ceremony where the brides are known as “Brides of St Anthony”. They receive the blessing of St Anthony at the historic Lisbon Cathedral in the district of Alfama. then parade with their partners through the city. We waited until around midnight then headed back home to be met with yet another wild party on the Bica stairs, which lasted until 04:30 or so, this time we gave it a miss as we were both a bit played out after all our walking.
Monday 13th June
The Unesco World Heritage status town of Sintra was our destination today so we took a local bus to the Rossio station to catch the 11:00 train, the service was full and left bang on schedule, the journey was fun, made all the more so by a group of accordion playing buskers entertaining us during the trip.
The visit to Sintra was very enjoyable, Sintra is one of the most beautiful and most unique places in Portugal and was absolutely worth a visit, situated within the cooling hills of the Serra de Sintra, with fairytale-like castles and fancy palaces, extravagant villas and the ruins of a 10th-century Moorish castle, it was a great way to spend some time away from the busy city, we even took a tour on the Little Train, which was a fun way to get up into the hills.
On our return to the city, we used the last of our bus tickets to take us to Marvila, a suburb in the northeast of the city to photograph a mural by Brazilian artist Kobra, plus some others, a worthwhile trip for me as I really like his work, having seen it in many parts of the world.
For our last meal out in Lisbon we settled on a Mexican restaurant around the corner from the flat, the food was very good and it was made all the better by the live music being played whilst we ate, a nice way to finish off our trip.
Tuesday 14th June
We spent the morning packing and tidying the flat before checking out and heading into town, we decided to take the metro to the station where we could eventually get to the airport, then had a wander around the area, we found a nice park where we could just sit in the shade and discuss the experiences of our time in Lisbon.
Eventually, all good things come to an end and it was time to catch the metro to the airport, once there we quickly got through security with no problems or delays and our flight to London got away on schedule. Things went awry went we reached Heathrow though, we had to go through another security check, a trial they said, then our flight was held up due to some problem in Berlin, which meant that we didn’t get home until the early hours of the morning, tired but happy after a great holiday.
As usual, a separate page showing the street art will follow
I’m slowly trying to catch up with posts from my recent trips away, the first of the catch-ups is of my visit to the MOCO Museum in Amsterdam, I won’t say more here, you can read all about it and see some of the photographs here.
Monday 25th April An early start to get to the airport in plenty of time, however, due to a strike by baggage handlers at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport our flight was delayed. This gave us time to have a nice but rather expensive bacon roll and coffee in one of the airport bars. The flight eventually took off around 2½ hours late. Once in Amsterdam, it was easy to make our way to the Central Railway station to catch a train into town, and then a number 22 bus took us directly to our hotel, the Westcord Art Hotel. In keeping with the street art vibe of our Amsterdam visit, this hotel suited us down to the ground, with murals all over the foyer and staircases and an individual mural in each room
After checking in and after a wee rest we headed out to Westergas, a creative complex at the nearby Westerpark. Once the city’s gasworks, this collection of old industrial buildings is now home to a variety of bars, restaurants and entertainment venues, We stopped off at Brouwerij Troost for some local beers and food, it was a great place to start the trip off, however, we thought it strange that the menus were all in English and almost everyone spoke English too, the food and selection of beers were very good, I certainly would recommend to anyone visiting Amsterdam.
Tuesday 26th April A short stroll through the narrow streets of the west of the city took us to Prinsengracht on the banks of a nice canal where we stopped for breakfast in the famous Pancake Bakery, luckily we arrived before the crowds and got a table easily, the food when it arrived was spectacular and quickly became one of Jim’s favourite ways to have breakfast. We stopped on the way at the Check Point Charlie cafe, which was unfortunately closed, to take some photographs of murals by The London Police, there was another of their pieces on a gable opposite on the other side of the canal so over we went with camera in hand.
Note:I photographed so much street art in Amsterdam and at Straat that there is enough for 2 more pages, I will not mention them in this post however they can be seen here:
That wander started off what was a walking day for us (almost 30,000 steps) as we explored the city, since we had the luxury of some time to spend here we thought that it would be good to see what the city had to offer before booking any tours etc. We stopped off at the Anne Frank house and realised why it’s best to pre-book (we later discovered that it was fully booked until the end of June!), so off we went on our stroll. Including the obligatory search (successful) for Starbucks and the Lego Store we really enjoyed this way of seeing the city.
After some searches on Google for traditional Dutch food and drink highlights, we stopped for a beer in the Beer Tasting Room In The Wildeman, which is a quirky bar in a former distillery stocking over 250 beers from throughout Europe, the barman was as interesting as the bar and made us very welcome suggesting some very good beers for us. The city was filling up and becoming quite crowded as preparations were being made for Koningsdag (Kings Day), officially the national celebration of the birthday of the King, but this in reality looks like a good excuse to party hard. We decided to purchase a 3-day bus pass and after a problem with the ticket machine which charged us twice, we returned to the hotel in the late afternoon for a wee bit of R&R before heading out again to find Moeders. (Mothers), for some traditional Dutch food, we ordered the ‘Stamppot’ a real Dutch “stamppot” of mashed potatoes with vegetables served with a sausage a meatball & bacon and were not disappointed, the restaurant, staff and food could not be bettered, the mismatched furniture, glassware and crockery all added to a friendly atmosphere, reminding us of the Butterfly and the Pig back home, another feature Jim liked was the multitude of pictures of mothers on the walls, there is hardly an inch left uncovered. After dinner we followed the crowds back into the centre of the city, we enjoyed joining in with the revellers in some of the street discos before stopping off in an Irish bar for our last pint before heading back to the hotel on a late bus very tired but happy after a great day.
Wednesday 27th Koningsdag
Everyone we had spoken to told us that today was special and was going to be a bit crazy, we were told that we should visit NDSM, an old industrial shipbuilding area to the north of the city to get away from the crowds, so off we headed to the central station to catch one of the free ferries across, it looked exactly as described, old machine shops and slipways, there was even some old machinery left, it was interesting that in one of the shipbuilding sheds there was an old plate roller built by the Scottish Machine Tools Corporation, I company I worked in when I first came ashore. The area has been turned over to street artists and there is even STRAAT, a museum dedicated to it in one of the buildings, we decided to leave off visiting for a day when we had more time.
One of the so-called highlights of Kings Day is the flea markets across the city, the rules allow anyone to settle down anywhere and sell all their unwanted goods, the one at NDSM was huge and mainly seemed to be families selling off all their old children’s toys and books.
After a weird kind of fusion Dutch/Indian lunch, we returned to the city centre and witnessed the madness begin, we watched as over 800,000 people from the outskirts of the city descended, arriving at the station as we returned on the ferry. It all started off well with us following a marching drum band down the street into a sea of bright orange..
From there on in it was a case of trying to get through the crowds, at almost every street corner there were people selling beer, giant speaker systems were set up and the biggest crowds we have ever seen, drinking and dancing at every street corner, the partying spilt over onto the canals with loads of boats going up and down filled with revellers (and sound systems). At times we were lifted off our feet and carried along in the swell, it was almost as if everyone in Amsterdam and the surrounding towns had arrived and were wanting to make up for the 2 years of partying they had missed. This mayhem continued well into the night and we had great fun being a part of it, the only difficulty we encountered was that most restaurants were closed so dinner was a problem, we ended up in a taverna which was a bit disappointing, we were glad to catch a late bus back to the hotel, thankfully it was relatively quiet compared to some of our earlier tram rides.
After liking it so much, we returned to the Pancake Bakery for breakfast before going on a cruise through the canals on one of the Circle Line boats, which was a very enjoyable and relaxing way to see a different side of the city. We then headed to the Museum Quarter to visit the Rijksmuseum where we had some fun in the gardens before visiting the Van Gogh museum followed by Moco, a boutique museum focused on modern and contemporary art with a collection of unique works by Banksy, Damian Hirst, and many others.
Whilst in Moco, I was reminded of a mural of SWG’s GazMac painted by Smug somewhere in the city, after a bit of google research we discovered that it was in a housing estate in the southeast of the city not too far from where we were, tram ticket in hand off we went and were not disappointed with the 10 large scale murals which graced the ends of 5 apartment blocks, there was also a good piece by D*FACE nearby. We returned to the city for dinner trying for the second time to get into HAP-HMM, to no avail, it was booked for almost as long as the Anne Frank House, so off we popped back to Moeders for another visit to sample more of their traditional Dutch fare. We then returned to the hotel for a late beer to finish off another great but tiring day.
Friday 29thApril We took a bus into town and after a light breakfast we took the 15-minute ferry ride across to NDSM to visitSTRAAT, a museum/gallery space dedicated to street art, it almost felt as if we has saved the best till last, it is a spectacular space, NDSM in Amsterdam North; was once Europe’s largest shipbuilding area, is now a place where its industrial heritage meets modern architecture. NDSM is a place where street art and graffiti are a big part of the culture with plenty of ‘legal walls’.
On leaving STRAAT we had a wander around the area, we also had a nice chat with some crew members of Tres Hombres, a 3 masted sailing ship which trades between Holland and the Caribbean moving cargo such as rum, coffee, and chocolate, it looked like a tough job as they had no engines to help them out.
Back in town and after a couple of beers in the Wildeman before heading to another part of the city to sample more traditional Dutch food in the highly-rated Pantry, we were not disappointed as the food was very good indeed. We returned to the hotel pretty worn out like every other day here we walked loads and were on our feet for most of the day.
Saturday 30th April
After going to bed on Friday night I became a wee bit ill and woke on Saturday feeling rather rough and not up to very much. We decided to wait until lunchtime to check out of the hotel before heading into the city centre. After a quick brunch and on hearing the news of massive queues and delays at Schipol Airport we made our way there. There were indeed long queues to get through security and passport control, but once through those, we had plenty of time to relax and prepare for our flight home.
The flight left on time and we were back in Glasgow and through Passport control in no time at all, we picked up the car and returned home tired but happy after a great week away in a wonderful city, I’m sure we will be back at some point, next time though we will book our visit to the Anne Frank House and Hap-HMM well in advance.
I ventured out today to find something new and was pleasantly surprised that a couple of old favourites are still there and looking fairly good.
My first stop was in Govanhill where Conzo Throb & Ciaran Glöbel created ‘A Postcard from Govanhill‘, the first mural in the Govanhill Open Museum art trail. The mural, which contains patterns from Middle Eastern tiles, Romanian fabric, Scottish tartan and ‘wally close’ tiles, represents a different aspect of the diverse local community and is very reminiscent of a similar one created by them in Dennistoun.
Maryhill was my next stop, where I went looking for a new(ish) mural by Mack Colours and Frodrik on Stockline Plastic’s building on Hopehill Street, it really is well worth a visit to see it, the company are delighted with it and In their opinion, it makes a wonderful addition to the impressive collection of murals around the city.
Whilst in the area, I popped along Maryhill Road where I photographed a piece by Ohpanda in theBraeside Community Gardens, a nice big fish from Frodrik on the front of a building near the corner of Cowal Road. At the end of the building, you will find the little Scottie Dog and Bumble Bee and across the road, there is the Glasgow Panther, both created by Rogue One and Ejek way back in 2014.
Never mind the Birdman of Alcatraz, we have our own talented Birdman here in the southside of Glasgow. While out shopping the other day I came across some fine pieces on the soon to be demolished Shawbridge Arcade in Pollokshaws, which apart from a lonely bookies shop, is almost derelict. The pieces, mainly by Mack Colours and Frodrik, certainly brighten up the area. I spoke to one old lady resident who stated that “that boy sure knows his burds, he shoud’a done this years ago“. With some other pieces from Glasgow’s TapendTef and Mul-Draws, who is on a visit to the city from Newcastle, the murals are now drawing people to it and the area. It’s a shame they will disappear when the arcade is gone. UPDATE The murals also attracted the attention of the local newspaper, you can read their article here
A couple of days earlier whilst in Glasgow I spotted a couple of nice pieces by Frodrik in the Trongate area, showing his new ‘Blue Period’, one of a dog on Trongate and one of his stunning monochrome portraits on Hutcheson Street, both are up to his usual very high standard and are well worth a look. What I did like to see was a piece by Mul-Draws, who I met at Prefab77’s exhibition at Yard Life last week, it’s good to see these collaborations, I believe Frodrik and Mack Colours reciprocated by visiting Newcastle, recently.
I took a trip into Yard Life at SWG3 last night to see the new exhibition by Prefab77 (AKA Peter Manning). A Slice of Life, which is Peter’s first solo Scottish show, is a stunning series of portraits in a mixture of print, acrylic, spray paint, wheatpaste and varnish which creates a dark world of Gangs, Goddesses and Groupies, woven into pure, rock and rebellion. I had a good blether with Peter, a thoroughly nice guy, who stated that he loves Glasgow and is looking forward to returning in June for Yardworks 2022, I would love to see him in action then.
It was really good to see many of the Glasgow based artists visiting last night and to catch up with them, I look forward to seeing the many new pieces they were discussing when they appear.
On my way to the gallery, I walked down Haugh Street and on hearing some good music coming from a doorway, I peeked in to be surprised by some really good paintings of well-known chefs, by the style it looks like the work of Rogue One. It turned out to be the Dockyard Social, who state that they are the best street food traders Scotland has to offer, providing a taste of global comfort food, it certainly looks like a place I will return to.
Now that I’ve had a bit of time I’ve put together a couple of pages of the street art I photographed during my recent trip to Northern Ireland. I discovered so much I have split it into two pages, one for Belfast City and the other for the pieces I found in the other towns I visited on my trip. A few sample images are shown below.